March 1, 2024
Does this look like a suspect "confronting" police and "forcing" them to open fire? (Screenshot from "Firing Squad at 5 A.M./DRenegade)
Does this look like a suspect “confronting” police and “forcing” them to open fire? (Screenshot from “Firing Squad at 5 A.M./DRenegade)

“Ok everyone for now here is part 2 and a GoFundMe page that we really need help with along with pressure on the legal system to get justice and these officers charged,” Jason Kloepfer wrote in a Tuesday Facebook post. “We have not been home for one night since this happened and will not be for multiple reasons. The biggest one is fear of being murdered. The cost of living has been very high and on top of that paying our normal bills.   Please share all of this as far and wide as possible.”

That’s exactly what AmmoLand Shooting Sports News has been doing since its initial exclusive post in January presenting the original video of the Cherokee Indian Police opening fire on the unarmed man answering their demands to come out of his trailer while his hands were in the air, and highlighting the resulting inconsistencies from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department as it pointed fingers in its own Facebook post, denying responsibility, and flat-out spreading a narrative that has since proven to be false. (Angry and disbelieving reader reaction has since resulted in the department limiting who can comment on its posts, that is, the government agency is censoring citizens.)

That report was followed up by two in February, the first documenting lack of media coverage and presenting key questions left unanswered in the sheriff’s attempts to absolve himself and his department of any responsibility for events he set in motion resulting in an unarmed and non-belligerent citizen and his wife being subjected to a barrage of gunfire, and the second posting a time-lined transcript of the Calls for Service Report and Dispatch Recording, and highlighting the dangers of SWATting based on unproven allegations.

The new video Kloepfer referred to in his Facebook post is embedded below for viewing. In it, we see from the time stamp that it was taken from the same camera as the first video and it took place almost seven hours after the events of the shooting.

The officers in the video are with the State Bureau of Investigation. Their bemused conduct and questions are hardly suggestive of crack “CSI” types.

“They shoot at him and they went and got a warrant?” one officer asks. It sounds like another responds with a breathy laugh.

The video then presents selected areas of a subpoena presented by Kloepfer’s attorney to the neighbor who initially called in the complaint resulting in the SWAT raid, demanding that she appear and testify and produce texts between herself and the deputies and “any and all videos” she told dispatchers she had recorded in her complaint call.

We then learn that on March 1, the District Attorney filed for the dismissal of both charges against Kloepfer. This was confirmed in a March 2 report by ABC 13 News. Bear in mind that the dismissal document shown in the video is marked “At the request of the prosecuting witness.” This is after she’d dialed 911 accusing him of firing “at least 10 shots” and reporting he had made death threats against neighbors and any police who might respond. And she’d indicated to the 911 dispatcher that she’d “already sent them” to other officers via text messaging.

The video ends with the investigators removing the camera that recorded the video and voices indicating it was on “the cloud” and that they had Kloepfer’s phone. That makes it fair to wonder not only why the sheriff stated he was unaware of the video until January 18, but also, if SBI first accessed it before it went public and made viral by citizen activists.

It also brings up fair questions about just how impartial any investigation can be without full disclosure of relationships between all parties involved in Klopefer’s shooting and subsequent actions. That’s compounded by a new development reported Wednesday by Smoky Mountain News:

“DA recuses herself from police shooting case.”

She cites a conflict of interest by now being a witness in a case “involv[ing] potential crimes committed by a government official.” We further learn that County Attorney Darrell Brown, whom Sheriff Dustin Smith blamed for the publicity release he cited in his Facebook post,  resigned after that.

Left unexplored at this writing are public disclosures for other potential conflicts of interest:

How did the witness have phone numbers for two officers to text them? Were they provided after the 911 call or does she have any kind of prior personal or professional relationship with either?

What personal relationships exist between members of the Sheriff’s Department and/or members of the Cherokee Indian Police SWAT unit and members of the State Bureau of Investigation that might compromise their objectivity or present the appearance of impropriety?

For his part, friends of Kloepfer have started a GoFundMe page, because, in fear for their lives the couple has been forced to relocate. The purpose is “to help them get by with housing, medical bills, etc. Jason is a disabled man and is unable to work which is why they need help.”

As for resolving the questions raised above, it remains to be seen if a fair, objective, and transparent investigation can happen without all interests and potential conflicts being on the table. Adding to the difficulty of ensuring that is the fact that not one major national “legacy” media outlet has seen fit to notice the story, let alone use their considerable resources to investigate and inform the public.

That no doubt is a factor in why the  one outstanding question presented at the end of the new video remains unanswered:

“As of March 26, 2023, no law enforcement officers involved in the firing squad at 5 A.M. on December 13, 2022, have been criminally charged. Why not?”

Afterword

The Kloepfer story contains several takeaways for all citizens to consider when firearms prohibitionists talk about “red flag laws” based on accusations, confiscation raids, and police being the “Only Ones” with guns. Hopefully, gun owners who see how outrageous situations can and do develop from these will keep it in mind when arguments against their rights are raised. And hopefully, some who are reading this will be concerned enough about it to contact the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and remind them that just because major media isn’t watching them to ensure justice doesn’t mean enough of us aren’t.


About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

David Codrea

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